HomeNewsArticle Display

Air Force uses lasers to preserve space history



JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- The site of one of America's proudest achievements is now little more than a weed-riddled concrete pad, surrounded by twisted, rusting metal.

Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 14 is best known as the launch site for NASA's "Friendship 7," the flight that brought John Glenn fame as the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Now, more than 50 years later, the complex and other National Historic Landmarks are rapidly falling into decay.

"Some of these complexes are in poor shape," said Tom Penders, the cultural resources manager for the Air Force's 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. "A couple (of the structures) are on the verge of collapsing, so I wanted highly detailed documentation before something happens."

The site is situated near the Atlantic Ocean, where salty winds create a highly corrosive environment. Challenged by limited funding for major preservation projects, the Air Force has turned to cutting-edge technology to document and preserve Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's historic launch structures, before it's too late.

The 45th SW partnered with the University of South Florida's Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies, or AIST, to implement a solution: the use of a laser scanner to survey, map and create virtual-model videos of six of the highest-priority historic launch complexes.

"We consider many of these structures to be endangered species, meaning that they are unique and sometimes the last of their kind, and we are looking at ways to preserve them digitally and holistically, as well as improve chances for effective stabilization and maintenance," said Dr. Lori Collins, the co-director of the AIST program at USF.

The scanners, developed by FARO Technologies of Lake Mary, use lasers to create high-speed, 360-degree scans, and are able to measure approximately a million data points per second of everything within 360 yards. The three-dimensional images are so accurate that millimeter-sized details are able to be examined and analyzed.

"It not only costs far less and takes much less time, but also provides an accurate, detailed record of the historic properties than can be achieved by traditional documentation methods," said Heidi Mowery, the cultural resources manager at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's installation support team at Patrick AFB, who assisted the wing with project funding requirements.

With scanning and field operations complete, the project is now focusing on modeling, visualization and other digital products for possible future maintenance and stabilization of the structures, as well as for education and outreach efforts.

"Digital documentation will, in this case, not only be used for preservation and archival recording efforts, but for visualization through online, classroom and other applications, promoting education and outreach," Collins said. "Already, data from this project has been used in courses at USF on heritage preservation, museum visualizations and field method applications, and much more is planned in the way of teaching and training using heritage as a theme."

The scans can also provide a unique opportunity for the public to take an electronic tour of the historic facilities.

"I would like to see people taking a virtual tour of CCAFS and visiting the launch complexes, seeing them past and present," Penders said. "With cuts in budgets and ever changing launch requirements, touring CCAFS is on hold or could be stopped in the future if needed. This presents an alternative to a physical tour."

The next phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2015, and will include terrestrial laser scanning and 3-D spatial technologies to identify, evaluate and document baseline conditions at the launch complexes. With baselines established, the project will evaluate condition changes and deterioration over five years of continued monitoring.

The resulting information will help the 45th Space Wing plan and prioritize future preservations and restorations efforts, Mowery said.

In addition to preserving space history, the wing plans to apply the technology to other projects at CCAFS and Patrick in the future.

"Several of the early settlers' cemeteries here have grave markers that are degrading, plus their location close to the Banana River make them susceptible to rising waters," Penders said. "I also want to use this methodology at Patrick (AFB) on the few remaining World War II facilities, as well as downrange on Antigua and Ascension Island."

Engage

Twitter
The 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Detachment 1, recently participated in Astral Knight 20, a U.S. Air Forces… https://t.co/WObBS1CVdM
Twitter
Increasing warfighter capacities The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is leading the construction of $107 million i… https://t.co/1Ff7PEW1Hl
Twitter
"Medic!" 🚑 @KunsanAirBase Airmen participated in medical evacuation training, Oct. 27, 2020. Medical personnel ar… https://t.co/iucvbtLGGB
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: #ICYMI Airmen of the @AKNationalGuard's 210th & 212th RQS rescued an injured hiker at Byron Glacier. Due to inclement wea…
Twitter
The best of the best. Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Airmen participate in the 2020 Lightning Challenge at Fort… https://t.co/x31SkdJUK4
Twitter
Speaking the same language is crucial when working with our allies and partners. #ReadyAF https://t.co/S78oFS1yMF
Twitter
"Calling search and rescue" @374AirliftWing Airmen participate in a Samurai Readiness Inspection at Combined Arms… https://t.co/16NG8UuD77
Twitter
The two-week exercise is in tandem with the Polish air force near Powidz, Poland. #Partnership #ReadyAF https://t.co/oj2EPRUBSF
Twitter
.@USAF_ACC conducted an experiment known as Agile Flag 21-1 from Oct. 21-29 to test agile combat employment and a n… https://t.co/sZF2HgNUeI
Twitter
The Department of the Air Force will soon conduct focus groups with Total Force Airmen and Space Professionals abou… https://t.co/uPAlbUEYxt
Twitter
RT @AFGlobalStrike: For 50+ years, #MinutemanIII #ICBM fleet has underpinned our strategic force & played critical role in ensuring protect…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: Between Oct. 20 and 21, 2020, Iranian threat actors conducted an information operations campaign by sending emails, masquera…
Twitter
Ready day or night The 8th Fighter Wing at @KunsanAirBase stands ready to conduct counter-air, air interdiction,… https://t.co/8FzXyQPwFo
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceDoD: Vice Chief of Space Operations tests positive for COVID-19 https://t.co/El9DBFkpAg
Twitter
Global reach Approximately 200 Airmen and four B-1B Lancer aircraft with the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from… https://t.co/XdxCzteeGx
Twitter
Small business partnerships 🤝 @AFWERX is recommending more than 250 proposals as part of its X20D Small Business… https://t.co/vzVcj7Idfc
Twitter
Rapid strategic delivery 📦 The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed with @USAFCENT, is responsible for… https://t.co/WxSke8iXnG
Twitter
Fulfilling mission-critical requirements The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently granted the #USAF a patent… https://t.co/wtf5K6NITn
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Looking forward to this dialogue today with Dr. Austin.
Twitter
Accelerating change Airmen from the 366th Fighter Wing and 389th Fighter Squadron participate in Agile Flag 21-1 a… https://t.co/07r8CmEgl9
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,299,100
Follow Us